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Moss Bros aims to grab market share from indies

Menswear retailer Moss Bros is hoping to pick up market share from competitors hit by the recessionas its new chief executive takes the helm.

Brian Brick, who was appointed permanent chief executive last week after being interim chief executive since January, said the business had great potential and cash in the bank which would see it weather the economic downturn.

He said: “We’ve got great brands and the stock levels are under control. We have a very strong balance sheet which will help see us through the recession and there are likely to be independents and some bigger shops that fall by the wayside, which will free up market share.

He added that the company had a “great relationship” with landlords, and was well placed to get favourable terms on any stores if the opportunity arose.
Brick said he would focus on “simple things” at the business, which runs the Moss and Cecil Gee chains, as well as Hugo Boss, Canali and Simon Carter franchise stores.

He said: “We’re concentrating more on the processes and procedures; the right product at the right time, the right staff in the stores. We are working more closely with suppliers. They are all relatively simple things.”

The company reported a pre-tax loss of £5 million for the 53 weeks to January 31. Like-for-like sales fell 3.2% over the period. Within this, the Moss chain’s like-for-like sales fell 4.3% while Cecil Gee’s were down by 6.4%. Moss Bros Hire had a like-for-like sales increase of 0.8%. Of the franchises, Hugo Boss posted a like-for-like increase of 0.4% and Canali was up 6.4%.

Like-for-like group sales fell 9.4% in the six weeks since the year end with the impact of bad weather. However, this improved in the past four weeks to a decline of 5.7%.

The company said that in volume terms suit sales were up 20% year-on-year since the year end as people smartened up in the recession.

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